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Training

Brandy Callahan

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?
A: I grew up in Montreal, and later moved to Quebec City for graduate school. My academic training is in clinical neuropsychology with a focus on geriatrics and neurodegenerative disorders, in particular Alzheimer’s disease.

Q: What compelled you to pursue stroke research?
A: It is now quite well-known that Alzheimer’s disease is most often “mixed” – that is, autopsies show that all kinds of different brain pathologies are found in patients with dementia, not just plaques and tangles. The most common comorbidity in Alzheimer’s disease is vascular pathology (e.g., infarcts and stroke), but we don’t know very much about the specific ways in which vascular comorbidities can impact cognition. I think this is an area ripe for exploration, using a combination of neuropsychological and neuroimaging data.

Q: What is the focus of your research?
A: The overarching aim of my research is to improve the diagnosis of dementia, particularly in individuals who have co-morbid medical, neurological, or psychiatric conditions that increase risk for dementia, including vascular disease. I am currently working on two major projects. The first aims to investigate how small vessel disease can impact specific aspects of executive functioning in older adults with various degrees of cognitive impairment. A second aims to determine the relationship between ADHD symptoms in older adults and prodromal dementia.

Q: At what stage are you in your research, and what are your future plans?
A:
 I am currently completing the first year of my second postdoctoral fellowship, and I aim to pursue an academic career in clinical research.

Q: How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?
A:
 The NTA offers great opportunities for networking and getting acquainted with what other labs are working on. I also found I’ve learned a lot from other trainees’ experience and expertise in vascular health research, especially because I come from a very dementia-focused background with relatively limited training on the vascular side of things.

Q: What other interests do you have?
A:
 I’m kind of a homemaker at heart. My one true passion is cooking (if an academic career doesn’t work out, I’ll retrain to become a chef), but I am an enthusiastic appreciator of pretty much anything food-and-drink related. Other non-work interests of mine include crossword puzzles, The Office, podcasts, crafting, true crime, jogging and cycling.